A manipulated video purporting to show a slurring Nancy Pelosi was gaining traction on social media with millions of shares Friday, as the Democratic congressional leader traded insults with President Donald Trump over mental health.
An analysis by AFP journalists of the doctored footage, in which Pelosi appears to speak in a clumsy manner, found it had been slowed to around 75 per cent of its normal speed.
One version posted on Facebook by conservative site Politics WatchDog has been viewed 2.3 million times, and it was also circulating widely on YouTube and Twitter.
In the comment section of the post, Facebook users called Pelosi “drunk”, “a babbling mess”, and suggested she may have taken prescription drugs or suffered a stroke.
The video has emerged amid a bitter public row between Pelosi and Trump which has seen the US president attack his rival as “crazy Nancy” and “a mess.”
Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, expressed hope that those close to Trump would stage an intervention “for the good of the country.”
In a tweet Thursday, Pelosi also sarcastically repeated Trump’s description of himself as a “very stable genius.”
The slowed-down video of Pelosi — who is often seen as a bete noire by Republicans — was shared by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Twitter. He later deleted the tweet.
The Politics WatchDog post’s caption reads: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on President Trump walking out infrastructure meeting: ‘It was very, very, very strange.’”
The footage appears to have been doctored from a speech Pelosi gave at the Center for American Progress Ideas Conference in Washington DC on Tuesday.
At the event, Pelosi reiterated her belief that Trump is “obstructing justice” and is involved in a “cover up” by refusing to cooperate with investigations by Democrats in Congress, according to satellite TV network C-SPAN, which published the original video online.
She characterized the president’s actions as a potentially “impeachable offense,” it said.
According to the Washington Post, which first reported the doctored video, the pitch of Pelosi’s voice had also been altered to disguise the fact that the video had been slowed.
“To possibly correct for how that speed change would deepen her tone, the video also appears to have been altered to modify her pitch, to more closely resemble the sound of her natural speech,” the report says.
Trump on Thursday tweeted a separate Fox News video of Pelosi which appeared to have been edited to focus on sections of a speech in which she stuttered and mispronounced certain words, with the caption “Pelosi stammers through news conference.”